Three-time Group 1-winning trainer Ed Cummings is hoping that I’m Divine can take out Saturday’s Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick.
Cummings won this race 12 months ago with star mare Duais, who has since gone on to win three races at the highest level, including a dominant win in Monday’s Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Newcastle.
I’m Divine, a three-year-old by Roman Emperor, will be looking to win her second race at just start number five when she lines up in the 2000m event.
The promising filly broke her maiden status in dominant fashion on February 8 at Hawkesbury, leading all of the way in a Maiden Handicap over 1300m on a Soft 6 track to record a 2.75-length win, before lining up in the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) at her subsequent start.
Cummings said it has been a “mixed preparation” with a lot of things not going to plan.
In the fillies’ most recent start, she ran right off the track at Canberra in a Benchmark 75 over 1600m, throwing the race away in the shadows of the post, which the trainer said really “disappointed” him, but he is hoping a few gear changes can fix her manners on Saturday.
“She’s shown a bit of ability from the minute she came back in from her preparation in the spring,” Cummings told HorseBetting.
“(She) Trialled up well twice and won well first-up while still doing a few little things wrong. Obviously things didn’t go well in the Surround at Randwick, and then she really – I suppose – disappointed us at Canberra when she threw the race away dramatically.
“We’ve changed a bit of gear and trialled her since where she’s trialled well, but she’s trialled well all preparation.”
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With 1600m being the longest race the three-year-old has raced in so far throughout her career, the 2000m on a Heavy 10 track is a slight query, but her trainer believes that she has laid the foundations to be able to see out the trip.
Tommy Berry is set to ride the filly on Saturday from barrier two, which will allow the pair to take up a favoured role in the lead, in a bid to return her to winning form.
“I suppose the test will come when she’s put under pressure to finish off on Saturday,” the trainer said.
“She relaxes well, she gets through her work well – she’s a good strong filly. At the moment, she has gotten stronger through the preparation, particularly as we’ve lengthened her work out, but I suppose there’s always a query, particularly under the circumstances of having a Heavy 10.
“I don’t think there’s any benefit to disappointing horses that have natural gate speed. She can control the tempo to some extent from a low draw and it’s certainly something that she’s had experience doing in leading up the field.
“All she has to iron out is the way she hits the line.”
Cummings plans to send I’m Divine to the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) on Day 2 of The Championships should she follow in her stablemates’ footsteps and win on Saturday, but he will be waiting to see how she comes through the run, as well as taking into consideration whatever Berry is to say post-race before he makes a final decision.
On Duais, connections are still yet to decide whether the Australian Cup and Tancred Stakes winner will line up in what is expected to be a star-studded Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on April 9, or if she will be tested at two mile in the Sydney Cup on the same day in her quest to win three straight Group 1 races.
I’m Divine is a $5 favourite in the Adrian Knox, while she is a $51 chance with online bookmakers for the Oaks.